The idiom “all duck or no dinner“, if you’re not familiar with it, means “all or nothing“. I once worked for a partner that was quite fond of using it, particularly in the context of limitation periods and time bars: if you’re in time, your clients will usually have a smorgasbord of dispute resolution options open to them. If you’re out of time, they go hungry.
Construction contracts often include clauses requiring a party to notify the other party within a specified time if it wishes to make a claim. In some cases, time-bar notice provisions are more than a mere obligation, rather they are a condition precedent to a valid claim.
We are frequently advising clients about conditions precedent in construction contracts, particularly in relation to timely notices for extensions of time and/or loss and expense (for example, under a JCT contract) and compensation events (for example, under an NEC contract). But what about notice requirements for referring a dispute to adjudication? We can often fall back on the position under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (Construction Act), being that disputes may be referred to adjudication “at any time”. If the Construction Act doesn’t apply, the parties may agree to limit that right. Continue reading